Today, it seems, fate kindly offered me its hand and led me to someone who, unexpectedly but quite possibly, could be my soul mate. One and a half days before NYE too. How’s that for timing?

The big question of what to do on New Year’s Eve seems to have been looming over our heads since October (I checked my Facebook timeline and that’s when it appears to have cropped up. The things you do when it’s raining, hey?). Now, having left the Camp Little Cottage By The Canal Where I Lived On My Own, I have returned to my sleepy hometown of Beverley in East Yorkshire before heading south after Christmas. Is this relevant? Well, a little bit.

I love home. Beverley has the Minster and, although I am not religious in any way, whenever I return home from “the south” it is always the most welcoming sight. Driving over the pasture land of Beverley Westwood the Minster shines like a beacon of sanctuary. It warms my heart and calms my mind as it lets me know that I am back home with the freely wandering cows, the gas lit pub in the town centre and the many take-aways that serve chip spice. In many ways the Minster has the same effect on me as it would have done an Elizabethan thief who sought solace within its walls having stolen some peas or a Lord’s oxen (perhaps). However, at my age, I am one of the few of my friends from back home who remains single. Oh, and by “one of the few” I do actually mean “the only one”.

Home Is Where The Single Heart Is

So being back home where all my coupley coupled up couple friends are doing coupley things in their couples for NYE, my options are narrowed down. A quiet night in watching other people celebrate on TV is fine – after all, throughout this year I plan to have much to celebrate as a result of friends and hard work – but, if I am honest, “fine” isn’t “great”. I was dwelling on this, choosing which slippers to wear and which mug to drink my midnight warm Ribena out of when something happened. Something potentially life changing. I received a text!

The text came from an unrecognised number. A number that is perfectly recognisable as a standard mobile phone number; it just happens that it’s not a number stored in my phone. You know the type; the ones sent by people who haven’t updated their address book since mobile phones were accompanied by briefcase sized batteries. The sort of message that is a “cleverly typed picture text” text of an angel wishing you a Merry Christmas before encouraging you to send it to 5 other unfortunates less your legs fall off in the next 24 kilometres or some such thing. So, an unrecognised number at Christmas? Standard. But… no!

I opened the message. It began thus: “Hi, sexy..”. Hi sexy?!? I re-read it. “Hi sexy..” Yes, that IS what it said. Now, who do I know who’s number I don’t have that would call me sexy? Hmmm, could be anyone from days gone by but (a) it was too early for anyone to be drinking and (b) if they were drinking at that time they were probably feeling depressed rather than flirtatious. Oh, and (c) I can’t recall anyone ever starting a message to me in that way. As it was a text message I probably should have waited until I’d read a little bit more before I began to analyse things. So, I did…

“Hi sexy, it’s Leigh”. Leigh? I like the name Leigh. Leigh sounds like someone who’d be a laugh. I imagine Leigh would wear one of my shirts to walk around the house in on a morning whilst I make freshly brewed coffee. Leigh sounds sophisticated but fun. Now then, do I know a Leigh? In short; no. I don’t. I read on…

“I saw you and you sound HOT”. Wow! Leigh saw me and she thinks I sound hot does she? So… hold on! Does that mean she doesn’t think I look hot? To be fair it HAS been Christmas and I have allowed myself to indulge fully so, actually, I admire Leigh’s honesty in that sense. So far I like what I know of Leigh: fun, stylish, she enjoys coffee and she isn’t a sycophant. That said, despite the honest opinion that she doesn’t think I look hot, she does think I sound hot. I did work on radio and had some good figures along the way (ooh, cheeky) so maybe I know her from then. Maybe my carefully planned topics of discussion and witty banter won her over. Yes, that’s probably it. She is attracted to my mind and my choice of shirts in which to lounge in. I like Leigh even more. I think I may reply. In fact, she has asked me to…

“Wud luv to chat. Txt me”. Hmmm, I’m not a fan of the text speak but then I have been ridiculed for using “proper English” before. If I let my grammatical snobbery stand in the way of what could be a true, soulful, shirt creasing romance then I’d be a fool. I have a feeling Leigh doesn’t suffer fools. Why should she? I imagine she is a successful woman who is following her dream but grounded enough to know she has to work hard to get it. She is clearly focused and confident in life. Obviously; that’s why she feels comfortable using text speak. We haven’t even met (at least, I can’t recall if we ever have) and she is already teaching me to be a better person. Leigh is making me the sort of person that wants to give her my best going out shirt to eat a bacon sandwich in on New Year’s Morning and to hell with the dangers of dropping tomato sauce down the front (not that she’d spill sauce because I imagine Leigh is at home in high class restaurants. Although, even if she did, she wouldn’t feel awkward about it. She’d laugh and that would make me laugh. I like that about Leigh).

So what made this vision soon to be in a (possibly) ketchup stained shirt text me out of nowhere? Had she smelt an aftershave that reminded me of her? Had someone discussed an observation during one of her sophisticated lunches with the girls that reminded her of something I’d done on the radio in days gone by? Had she confused me with someone she had previously referred to as “sexy” and this was just a beautiful example of fate text talking its way to two strangers meeting? I looked again.

“HI sexy, it’s Leigh. I saw you and you sound HOT. Wud luv to chat. Txt me.” Well, there was nothing in that message that could possibly lead me to be mistaken: Leigh wanted me to text her. I’m not usually one for meeting someone on a blind date but, that said, there was a chance Leigh and I had already met. Even if we hadn’t, I knew the sort of person Leigh was and I liked that sort of person. In fact, if I had to invent an image of my ideal partner then it would be Leigh. Leigh would be the person I’d come up with in my mind. Leigh with her long, brown hair and her doe eyed look that belied wickedness and innocence in equal, enticing measure. Leigh with her knowledge of the finer things in life but her love of the daft and the random. Leigh who takes life as seriously as it needs to be taken but who’s love for friends, family and life outweighs everything else. The more I thought about it, the more I found it hard to imagine Leigh having any flaws at all.

Then I found it. The one flaw that made Leigh less than perfect. The one flaw that, in an ironic twist, would take Leigh from the pedestal I was in danger of viewing her upon. The one flaw came in a part of the text I’d not noticed at first.

“150p for each message received. Text STOP to end”.

And like that, this blossoming romance was over. Over before it ever began. Leigh didn’t want me. Not really. In fact it’s possible that Leigh isn’t even a real person. I deleted the text and checked the TV listings to see if there were any repeats of Darling Buds Of May showing at midnight tomorrow. Goodbye, Leigh. Goodbye forever.

So, Here Is What I Have Learnt Today: if a girl wants to wear your shirt to lounge about in, don’t give her your best one; she’ll only get your hopes up and ketchup down the front.

Al

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